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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

Faculty and Staff

Karen Lear Edwards, J.D., C.H.E.

Title: Senior Instructor
Department: Department of Retailing
College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management
Phone: 803-777-5216
Fax: 803-777-4357

Carolina Coliseum Room 4005-A

Resources: Curriculum vitae
ORCID Connecting Research with Researchers 
Karen Lear Edwards, senior instructor


J.D., University of South Carolina School of Law, Columbia, S.C.
B.A., Coker College, Hartsville, S.C.
C.H.E., American Hotel and Lodging Association, Orlando, Fla.

Karen Lear Edwards is a senior instructor in the Department of Retailing at the University of South Carolina. Recipient of the University’s 2017 Faculty Integrity Award and the 2010-11 Harry E. Varney Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award, Edwards teaches in the areas of business law and law-related issues affecting retailers. Edwards developed the graduate-level courses Law for Retailers and Fashion and the Law, which provide students with an understanding of industry-specific legal issues and federal / state laws which relate to retailers and fashion-industry professionals, and Loss Prevention for Retailers, an undergraduate course for retailing majors. Edwards has developed and led numerous study abroad programs for retailing students, and was awarded the Brian J. and Linda L. Mahalik Global Scholar Award in 2016. She is a frequent presenter and past associate director at USC's Center for Teaching Excellence.

Edward's research focuses on legal issues affecting retailers and best practices in distributed learning. Her research has been published in the Journal of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management, Sport Marketing Quarterly, and the International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management. She has presented papers for various conferences, including Quality Matters, the International Journal of Arts and Sciences: Sicily, the Association of Marketing Theory and Practice, the International Conference on Sport and Entertainment Business, and the International Conference on Cybernetics and Information Technologies, Systems and Applications. She is a reviewer for the annual Conference of the Association of Marketing Theory and Practice, Management Research Review (formerly Management Research News), and European Sport Management Quarterly. In addition, she is a member of the South Carolina Bar Association's Law-Related Education Committee, and writes and speaks on issues relating to public education.

Prior to arriving at USC, Edwards practiced law with Duff, White and Turner, L.L.C., a firm that served public school districts and colleges across South Carolina. Her practice, which focused on employment law and education law, included significant amounts of workforce training on legal matters for her clients. Before attending law school, Edwards worked for a number of years in retail management, including roles as a merchandise coordinator, human resources manager, and corporate trainer. She earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law and her bachelor's degree from Coker College in Hartsville, S.C. Edwards is a past chair of Coker College's Board of Trustees, and a member of the South Carolina Bar Association, Fashion Group International, Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity, and American MENSA.


Distributed Learning in Higher Education
Counterfeit fashion products
Legal issues in retailing
Employment law